From the large glass window of my office cubicle, I sit watching the snow fall outside. It’s warm in here, thanks to the central heating system. Yet I am shivering.
“They have put Ma on ventilator. Come home fast.”
My sister’s tearful plea rings in my ears and I try to decipher the sudden turn of events. It started with a common cold and flu which later went on to take the ugly form of pneumonia. I was worried about Ma but never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that things would come to this!
I see my wife’s number flashing across the screen of my phone.
“Are you alright Akash?”
“Yes.” I sigh.
“So…are you going?”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“Look Akash, I am not discouraging you. But…please try to be a little realistic. You know that you are currently on an extended visa period, don’t you? If you step outside the country, it will be very difficult for you to come back.
She waits for those words to sink in and continues, “What if your visa gets rejected? What will happen to us then? I am graduating next month. Already I have a well paying job in my kitty. Surely you don’t want me to give everything up? Please think twice before taking any decision Akash.”
Click! The phone went dead.
I turn to look outside. The wind has gained momentum and a snow storm is on its way. Unbidden, pops an image of a snowman which I had attempted making during my first winter in this foreign land.
Ma had laughed on seeing the photo.
“Looks like your snowman has contracted polio!”
I see her now; a young widow trying to put up a brave face for the sake of her children, her slumped shoulders at the end of a long day, her tear soaked pillow, a frail woman fighting for life….
My eyes jerk open and fall on the ‘Best Employee Award’ sitting right in front of my desk alongside a small framed photograph of my wife.
God! I am at crossroads.
My head is yelling, “You have worked so hard to reach here. Don’t jeopardize your career and love.”
My heart is begging, “Go. Go to your mother. She is dying. If not now, then when?”
Who should I listen to?
Exactly at this point, Anita stops reading and snaps the book shut. She knows the rest of the story. She is living it after all. Again, her eyes scan the cover page.
“At crossroads !” by bestselling author Akash Sehgal, winner of ‘Sahitya Akademy Award’.
Pulling her gaze from her ex husband’s photo, she lets it wander across her exquisitely designed penthouse situated in the heart of New York.
And once more she asks herself the same question she has been asking for the past ten years.
‘Has Akash been a dutiful son or an inconsiderate husband?!’
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